The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, May 10, 1900, Page 8, Image 8

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8 be Conservative *
My country 1 I lintl liopcd to see thco great ;
And growing greater with the innrch of time ;
With lionor the bright path of glory climb ;
And now epoch for mankind create !
I longed to Bee theo a well ordered state ;
Promoting virtue , and repressing crime ;
In peace , ( surpassing thy heroic prime ;
Free , strong and wise , and master of thy fate I
But , if this favored land contemn the past ;
If vulgar greed bupplant the nobler aim ;
If power bo used the weaker to enthral-
Lot withered hopes to the wild winds bo cast ;
Let history weep to write the page of shame ;
And patriot hearts deplore the nation's fall.
The sudden changes of temperature
for which the city of Now York is
noted , though taxing the strength of all ,
naturally weigh most heavily upon the
poor. Thin is particularly true of the
summer months , when the mortality
rises 30 per cent over and above the
average death-rate for the year. When
the heat is greatest , and especially when
the periods of high temperature extend
over many consecutive days , the mor
tality is simply appalling among the
destitute living in the packed tenement
districts where every square inch of
available space is utilized , and where as
many as 100 persons are sometimes
crowded into a five-story dwelling built
upon an area.of only 2,500 square feet.
On the streets the conditions are not
much better ; for here the heat is greatly
intensified by reflection from brick walls
and asphalt pavements , and , in some
quarters , the air is vitiated by decaying
garbage and other foci of infection.
In view of all these unfavorable cir
cumstances the question arises , cannot
something be done to mitigate them ?
In other words , is it not possible to pro
vide more breathing places for the
multitude ?
It is hardly necessary to say that
Central Park has doubtless proved the
greatest boon ever bestowed upon our
city. In 1856 the territory embraced
within our present park limits was a
rude , uncultivated tract distinguished
by swamps , creeks and rocky gulches ,
and inhabited by squatters ; the only
landmarks at that time being the Block
House , the home at Mt. St. Vincent , the
Arsenal , and herb and there a private
dwelling. Yet this land , purchased by
the city at a cost of about $16,000,000 ,
has , by reason of the improvements
made upon it , so enhanced the desir
ability of the property in adjoining
districts that the assessed valuation of
the latter has gradually advanced to
over $500,000,000.
This fact expresses more eloquently
than words the material benefit which
the park has brought us. Statistics
show that it has improved our health ;
but its real charm must be seen to be
appreciated. There are taller trees in
old Hyde Park , broader driveways in
the Bois de Boulogne ; but a happy com-
biuatiou of art and nature has made
these 800 acres of ground one of the
loveliest of urban resorts. With all its
advantages , however , except on holidays
it is hardly used by the poor , who live
at too great a distance to go there for
the fresh air they need.
In 1867 St. John's Park , shaded by
graceful elms , was covered by a freight-
depot and wholly obliterated. Battery
Park , formerly our public garden , has
been disfigured by the unsightly struc
ture of an elevated railroad. The
greater part of City Hall Park , at one
time one of the most beautiful spots in
the city , is now occupied by Mail Street ,
the Federal Post Office and the Court
House. The removal of the Post Office
to a more central location would again
give the city control of the site upon
which that building is located ; and this
area could bo further enlarged by the
building of a now court house elsewhere ,
the present structure having frequently
been condemned by the Board of Health.
Such measures would facilitate the
restoration of the old park to its former
size and beauty , and would prove a
blessing to the numerous occupants of
the neighboring sky-scrapers as well as
to the crowds who in future will emerge
from or go to the ParkRow depot of the
cars of the Rapid Transit Tunnel.
To compensate for the spoliation of
this once beautiful spot , a few small
parks have been created in the lower
part of the city. Among these , Mulberry
Bend alone is deserving of special com
mendation. The adjoining "Paradise
Square , " where five thoroughfares meet
hence appropriately called the "Five
Points" was fifty years ago the centre
of crime and misery. One alley of this
neighborhood bore the significant name ,
"Murderers' Row. " This was the haunt
of the notorious gang , "The Dead Rab
bits , " who terrorized the district between
Broadway and the Bowery. This local
ity has now been completely trans
formed ; three acres of open ground
occupy the site of the former squalid
dens ; trees , which have scarcely had
time to grow , have cleared the vitiated
atmosphere ; and terrorizing criminals
have been compelled to make room for
frugal Italian laborers.
Another plot of three acres , bounded
by East Broadway , Norfolk , Hester and
Essex Streets , has boon acquired for the
formation of "Seward "
Park. This
pleasure-ground is situated within the
borders of the Tenth Ward , where
70,000 persons , principally Hebrews , live
on 109 acres of ground , i. e. , 643 to an
acre. The dilapidated structures which
covered the spot proposed for the park
have been demolished , and the encircling
houses , with all their misery , have
become painfully visible. Here the
Recreation League has temporarily ar
ranged a playground , where swarms of
children congregate , and their merry
making is in singular contrast to the
careworn faces of their parents , which
show but too plainly that their hopes of
finding an asylum in this country have
been by no means realized. If some of
their more fortunate brethren could
witness the misery prevailing in this
portion of the city , I am sure they
would not permit another summer to
pass without providing "Soward Park"
with vegetation. The evening concerts
which the city furnishes here must
sound like mockery to persons suffering
from insufficient food and water.
As to water , better provision has been
made in other districts. A spacious
building containing public baths is now
being erected in the prospective "Hamil
ton Fish Park , " comprising the square
bounded by Houston , Pitt , Willet and
Sheriff Streets. Yet this building , esti
mated to cost $80,000 , will encroach on
space required for fresh air and for
light. Far more successfully have the
advantages of our river front been util
ized at Corlears Hook Park , a resort
which is constantly growing in favor
with East Siders.
Several suggestions regarding our
opportunities for improvement occur to'
me. In the first place and above all , I
desire to call attention to the shore-line
running parallel to Blackwell's Island.
Owing to the strong currents at Hell
Gate , the entire stretch between the
Long Island and the Astoria ferries
that is , from Thirty-fourth Street to
Ninety-second street is unadapted to
the landing of cargoes , and consequently
is almost entirely devoid of piers ; only
a few being used for the landing of coal
and lumber. If the entire river front
were converted into a shore park , instead
of the twelve acres north of Eighty-
fourth Street , and the square bounded
by Thirty-fifth and Thirty-sixth Streets ,
between First and Second Avenues , the
change would materially benefit the
greatly congested German and Irish
districts of the East Side , and at the
same time increase the taxable value of
the adjacent property. Unless heroic
measures are taken this section will
eventually become the Whitechapel of
Now York. In the streets between First
and Second Avenues many vile resorts
are found , while the space between
First Avenue and the river has been
appropriated for gasworks , malt-houses ,
and abattoirs.
It has been proposed to convert the
section extending from Fifty-second to
Fifty-fourth Streets , and as far back as
Eleventh Avenue , into a pleasure ground
the "De Witt Clinton Park. " On
this spot , surrounded by sturdy oaks ,
stood the century-old homesteads of the
Mott and Striker families ; but it has
been recently hired for a dumping-
ground , so that the fair old landmark
has been despoiled of the trees remain
ing upon it. As it is , the few dilapidated
cottages remaining still bear the name
of Striker's Alley , which leads to an